Monday, November 22, 2010

All The Best Comics Have Daddy Issues #7

 

Being a father who is a comic reader leads me to thinking that I might just have a son who is a comic reader. I won’t be forcing this eventuality but it’s pretty good odds to happen. So what will he have around the house to read? Hit the jump to see if I own ANY kid friendly comics at all.


Literature For Children

I’ll say this first, I’m not going to be the usual fanboy who forces comics into his progeny’s hands just so I have a friend I can geek out with. I’m not going to force this hand, it won’t be a self-fulfilling prophecy, that’s just not my style.

But I’ve always found strong evidence that kids like, and think, in the same direction of their parents. They have similar political views, mirrored habits, and their exposure to the cultural arts is usually controlled by the olds. I know I grew up listening to Queen, ELO, and William Joel because of the stuff I constantly heard. I never got to the stage where I had to hate what my parents liked just to be a rebel. I always dug the sounds of my house.

My house was always full of books, shelves packed and covers on tables, but I never fell into the reading styles of my parents. Mum read Dick Francis and Dad never really had a main author he followed. But my eldest brother had comics and Stephen King and Clive Barker and that is always going to interest a kid (isn’t it?). I picked all of them up from an early age and never looked back. I was indoctrinated, and am still a messenger for the cause.

It seems pretty likely that as my son ages he will be exposed to what I read. This is especially true because I make a weekly trip to the store and I then spend the weekend slowly reading my issues, and writing reviews, and articles, about different titles. It’s a decent chunk of my life and so my son’s going to see it. I certainly won’t be hiding it from him.

So, if my dots all connect so far, he’ll probably want to read some of these funny books at some stage, so what will I have to give him?

I usually prefer comics that are aimed at a more adult audience. Vertigo and Icon are favourite imprints of mine and I’m not sure that there for kids, y'know? But in saying that I was about 8 or 9 when I read my first Stephen King book and from there lord knows the sort of fiction I was exposed to by the time I was a teen. Censorship wasn’t a massive problem for me growing up but I feel I’ll be a little more structured with what my boy reads, at least at first. I think my wife would appreciate that as well.

So this excludes a lot of my comic collection. The little man won’t be cutting his teeth on American Vampire, The Walking Dead, Casanova, Sin City, or any of the Brubaker/Phillips tomes (though when he does start I get the feeling maybe Incognito would be the place to go…). Even books like Ex Machina and Gødland might have to wait. They’re not exactly ground floor works.

The question then stands, what comics will be the first comics to be passed down the familial line? Let’s have a look at three contenders from within my collection.

Daredevil

This is kind of a no-brainer for me. He’s my favourite character, I have hundreds and hundreds of issues worth, and he’s generally reader friendly. There are a few works he might have to wait for, much of Miller’s work with the character comes to mind, but all of the first volume comes to mind as being fine to pass down.

But the second volume…I’m not so sure. It’s certainly not ground floor stuff, you need to have a passing knowledge of the character and it’s pretty adult in parts. I can’t imagine giving my young son much of the Bendis/Maleev run as it’s relatively violent and brutal. Maybe not the greatest stuff for the little comic reader. But the more simpler times, definitely. Maybe he can read the 90’s issues and then jump straight into Shadowland for a bit of a giggle.

Fantastic Four

I think you could give Jonathan Hickman’s run on FF and they’d enjoy it. Sure, some of it’s pretty cerebral and might confuse a kid but I’m of the Stan Lee school of thought where if a kid needs to go to a dictionary then that’s not the worst thing in the world. If he needs to ask me who Leech is then that will only bring us closer. And then I can direct him to further reading.

I was always a fan, as a kid, of reading a comic and being introduced to a new character who I hadn’t read about before. That character might have a deep history of which I wasn’t aware but that didn’t matter, if I liked that person then I’d chase down more information later. I’d read further comics or I’d ask my brother. Both fun options.

I’ve enjoyed Hickman’s work with the first family of comics and while I don’t think it is perfect it sure would be fun for a kid, and it’s damn pretty. Imagine being a kid and reading that mostly silent issue that was underwater. That would be the absolute business.

Essential Volumes

I’m not a massive fan of the black and white reprints that Marvel offer, I love me my colour, but be damned if these things aren’t great for getting a whole stack of information to just immerse yourself within. As a kid, I would have been all about reading these volumes that collect dozens of comics in one thick spine.

Because these comics were written a long time ago, generally, means that most of these tales are safe the kids. That’s a plus. I probably won’t get in trouble by passing one of these down, and it’ll keep the kid quiet for some time as these things, especially with the wordiness of older issues, can take ages to read.

I get the feeling, though, that my kid will need to be quite dedicated to comics to get through one of these, so maybe it’s not the first port of call.

The Others

There are a stack of comics in my collection that would be effective for my boy but probably not as his first at bat. Titles like any of the modern Avengers, much of the Batman I have, S.H.I.E.L.D., Gotham Central, Proof, even maybe something like Immortal Iron Fist would all be something I’d give later, if he pressed for more. If he’s liking the comics he does get sampled with then I’ll definitely steer him in the direction of more.

I could even see me eventually getting him into books (and I’m talking teenage years…maybe, or at least double digits) like Y: The Last Man, the Parker books by Darwyn Cooke, or even stuff like The Escapist books. I could handle giving those to my boy.

That Which Must Wait

I own every issue of The Boys. My boy won’t be reading those for some time. He just can’t, I wouldn’t respect myself as a parent if I let him read much of the stuff that takes place in those pages.

Yet, I would let my boy read any of my old EC horror, crime, and sci-fi reprints I own. The horror in those comics is present, sure, but it’s not so gleefully visceral. I loved EC as a kid, it got me into comics to a great degree, and I think it’s pretty tame and user friendly.

I also think Sleeper would be a book I’d hold off on giving my boy. I know he’ll enjoy the heck out of it but I inversely know it’ll be my responsibility to make him wait for that stuff. It’s just a bit too gloriously brutal for me to have to discuss with my kid in his first decade.

Most of the titles on my shelves, and stacked away in chests, aren’t things he can’t ever read, they are just treats he’ll have to wait for. They’re mildly adult, in character, story, or theme, and so he’ll have to hang on a little while. Which is a shame for him because it doesn’t leave much else I own that he can enjoy. I’m just not a guy who owns a lot of all ages books.

All Ages Suggestions

I feel like I should buy more all ages books now in preparation…but maybe that’s a tad presumptuous. There are great titles on offer, things like Tiny Titans, Pet Avengers, Thor The Mighty Avenger, but I don’t currently read any of them (sorry to all the Thor: TMA fans out there, my bad). I’m thinking maybe I’ll slowly catch up on them in trade as they become necessary.

It just seems responsible of me to have more stuff around that I won’t have to quickly hide from him. I’m just not making any guarantees that it will actually happen.

Conclusion

It’s an interesting concept to look at my comic reading and try to put these books into the future and my son’s hands. What comics have you given to your children to read? Do any of you pick up titles just so your child will have them later on? What comics being published today do you think are the best for children? Let me know in the comments.


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27 comments:

Logan said...

I first started on comics because my friend's dentist was giving away promotional Spider-Man comics and I was hooked. So I figure that I'll be stocking up on Essential Comics from Marvel once I have kids. The essential comics are great, also I really enjoy the Marvel Adventures line so that's a definite in. I figure that as the kid gets older I can gradually bring him more comics till he's up to speed.

Eric Rupe said...

Not sure how'd you feel about it but I've heard of people giving their kids the Essential editions as coloring books.

brandon said...

My little kid loves reading (looking at) the old Marvel Star Wars comics. I've tried to get her interested in the Adventures series from either Marvel or Dark Horse but she likes the little floppies more for some reason. Her favorite is the Return of the Jedi single issue mini series. It's very amusing.

She also loves the current Boom Muppet comics. Amazingly she isnt into any of the other Boom Kids line and I've tried them all.

She has no interest in the black and white stuff and I've never considered asking her to color them but at her age I think she needs bigger pages to color.

Logan said...

@Eric lol I've honestly felt like coloring the Essential books so many times!

twobitspecialist said...

@Eric - I was thinking the same thing. Who hasn't had that urge to color in his Essential Marvels?

Anonymous said...

I'd also recommend Marvel's Oz collections and Thor and the Warriors Four.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

If I could get my hands on some cheap Essentials, yeah, I'd save them as colouring books. That would be a hoot.

@brandon - I really dig a lot of the BOOM! kids line.

I wonder if my kid will be just as happy reading electronic comics? He'll probably have an iPad, so yeah, he will...won't he?

Ryan said...

I have two sons, 6 and 4 years old, that are showing similar interest in comics, etc. I have been getting them The Boom! Studios comic of The Incredible, which is quite good. Also, they enjoyed The Magic of Shazam and Batman: The Brave & The Bold comics which recently ended. Otherwise, they are very into Avatar: The Last Airbender, which we are watching together on DVD. Not sure when I will begin to let explore some of the comics more oriented for teens and older.

Brian Lee said...

I really got into comics around the time my oldest (a girl) could read well on her own (which was pretty young for her) and we'd all go to the LCS together. They have a kids' corner with all the all-ages stuff and she'd sit there and read (they're really cool about that) for the hour or two that we'd spend there. It's been sort of a regular family outing. The shop is a pretty long drive, so we only go there once a month now (we used to have other reasons for having the whole family in the area, but not now) and it's this special day every month.

As for what she's cut her teeth on, besides all the random stuff that catches her eye in the shop, she's enjoyed reading the Essentials we have at home (and have gotten from the library --- don't overlook that as a resource as we've all read a bunch of stuff -- kid and adult -- from there). We all love the Teen Titans animated series, and the comics they put out aligned with the show (Teen Titans Go!) are good, especially at capturing the feel of the show. All of the recent Power Pack books have been great. We love X-Men: First Class and Wolverine: First Class, though some of the content is a little heavy for kids. Tiny Titans is good if you know a bit about the characters, but if you don't a fair amount is sorta cute but nothing more. As mentioned, The Incredibles is good, as are all the recent all-ages Star Wars books that I've seen (Clone Wars Adventures and Star Wars Adventures) though it can get pretty heavy for young kids at times.

Lastly, and most importantly, is Chris Giarusso's work: Mini Marvels and G-Man. Mini Marvels is funny even if you know next-to-nothing about the characters (and funnier if you know more, especially some of the recent events) and G-Man is at least as good or better. They are whacked-out silly and kids (at least mine) love them. There's the main jokes that are funny by themselves and funnier if you get the references and then there's the background stuff that you don't always catch the first time through. Seriously, it's really good stuff.

Matt Duarte said...

Not exactly the same thing, but when I was a kid, my parents bought me a book collection of Mafalda comic strips (they run on newspapers, think Peanuts, Calvin & Hobbes, etc) which were all black and white. A year or two later, an even better hardcover collection of the same material plus some other stuff came out and bought me that too (they loved to spoil me, specially with books). Since the first book was now basically redundant, they allowed me to color it in any way I wanted. The first ten or so pages I colored normally, then as I went on I started going all psychodellic colors, and then very abstract modern painting style, just doing spirals all over the place, or kirby dots (even though I didn't know what those were back then), and so on.

In any case, I remember it being a lot of fun, so I would definitely allow the kids to let it do it.

craig said...

I think children until the age of eight shouldnt read comics , I mean let their imagination develop for example with a book the child has to picture the setting and characters wheras with a comic you do not . I think comics are bad for children is overblown but there is some merit of truth.

thats what I believe for my children

Brandon Whaley said...

My daughter loves the Toy Story comics, and Darkwing Duck. We're gonna try Chip n Dale when it starts in a month or so. She liked my Essential Silver Surfer, although the content is heavy for kids. Keep in mind that my daughter is 2 and mostly just likes the pictures though.

brandon said...

I agree with Brandon Whaley - kids around 2, 3, 4 or even 5 usually won't sit through a traditional book without some sort of visualization. Be it a board book when they just turn two or a comic at the age of 4. They need something to help map the words to a story.

Having read all kinds to my kids I find they ask way mroe questions when there are pictures as opposed to a mostly text book.

Brandon Whaley said...

@brandon - Agreed. My daughter is just starting to talk a lot, so she likes to point out things she recognizes, like cars and Batman (yeah, we've been watching a lot of The Animated Series haha) and say "There it is!" I'm hoping I can use that as association to get her to realize what words mean. C-A-R is how you write out "car" and such. So far its working, she doesn't know how to read but she can recognize certain words as what they are supposed to represent.

Paul said...

agreed with craig, I love comics but they are in most cases the literature eqivaulinent to television . I would rather have my child read novels to challange their imagination and expand their vocabulary . maybe introduce comics to them when they are about twelve or so

Brian Lee said...

My daughter (age 9) reads both novels and comics voraciously, but she's always had an amazingly high reading level. She was exposed to novels exclusively first, though. It gets harder to do that with the younger kids because they see what she (and Mom and Dad) do and get interested.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

Hey Craig and Paul - that's an interesting view to take. I'd think that reading some old Kirby comics, or any good comics, would still be mind enriching for any child. If we can show kids art - I mean museum art - then we can show comics. But I don't see tv as movies' little cousin anymore either, I think a lot of tv is better than a lot of movies.

I love novels, and will also make them readily available for my kid, but I think comics have a place too. As do songs, all sorts of creative experiences.

Comics make language available in a fun and friendly environment and can be a great stepping stone to reading larger prose text.

terry said...

sorry marvel and dc comics for the most part are like tv to me, rather let my childs mind to expand by reading then the pictures litrilally drawn out for them

Mark Reilly said...

I don't buy "comics kill imagination" arguments one bit. Picture books are perfectly OK for children; ask a school librarian if Mo Willems or or Kate Dicamillo hurt intellectual development. I haven't seen anything at all to suggest that comics (assuming that they're well-written and age-appropriate) should be considered differently.

terry said...

I didnt statw taht I just believe that letting the child imagine the picture then have it drawn for you helps them better

Ryan K Lindsay said...

I think if picture books are the perfect ground floor hook for children's literacy, and the work of Gary Crew and the like definitely confirms that, then comics can be as well. Maybe not poorly written comics, be they superhero, or not, but good stuff that stretches the imagination.

You don't give kids novels first, exclusively. Picture books factor in, so should comics.

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